In preparation for ‘the world’s heaviest ever boxing match’ between himself and fellow strongman Eddie Hall later this year, Hafthor Bjornsson, aka Game Of Thrones’ The Mountain, steps into the ring as a boxer for the first time this week when he takes on Northern Irish cruiserweight Steven Ward.
Below we break down everything we know about this curious exhibition…
Who are the combatants?
What is there to say about Hafthor Bjornsson that hasn’t already been said? The man who terrified audiences as Gregor Clegane in HBO’s Game of Thrones is literally one of the strongest men to ever walk the Earth and proved as much in 2018 when the Icelander became the first person to ever win the Arnold Strongman Classic, Europe’s Strongest Man and World’s Strongest Man in the same calendar year. Now the 32-year-old is stepping into the world of boxing with a bust-up with bitter rival and fellow World’s Strongest Man winner, Eddie Hall in place for September.
Before Hall though, Bjornsson wants a warm-up and that’s where Ward steps in. The former WBO European light heavyweight champion from Newtownabbey is two years younger than his opponent but carries with him a solid professional career of 13-1. Nicknamed ‘The Quiet Man,’ Ward only moved up to cruiserweight recently, and while Bjornsson has shed a ton of weight (he weighed a whopping 32 stone when he deadlifted 501kg, a world record), he’s expected to be more than double the weight of the man standing in the opposite corner on Friday night. Bjornsson also commands a seven inch height advantage, too.
Perhaps unsurprisingly then, it’s the man who has never laced up a pair of gloves professionally who will enter the ring as the betting favourite. You could say Ward has a Mountain to climb. Sorry.
Where? When? How?
The fight between Bjornsson and Ward, which will be an exhibition bout with three three minute rounds, was originally set to take place in Iceland but Covid restrictions forced the organisers to switch to the much, much warmer climates of Dubai on January 15.
Although the fight will take place on Friday night, the coverage will be available to watch from Saturday evening via coresports.world and Bjornsson’s YouTube and Twitch channels.
This might just be the precursor to the much bigger fight (in more sense than one) with Eddie Hall in September but there’s still some star quality on broadcast duty; Carl Frampton, former two-weight world champion and Ward’s compatriot, will be helping out on commentary alongside UFC Hall of Famer, friend of Bjornsson and arguably one of the craziest men to enter the Octagon, Bas Rutten. Roll on the weekend.